Stockholm Syndrome After Three Weeks In Italy


There’s a woman shaking her ass, she’s wearing an Afro — and she’s ignoring the shit out of me. She’s talking to another woman across the bar. I can clearly see them talking about me. And I know they are refusing to come over and serve me, seated at this table I am thirsty for a beer.

Before a ten-hour flight across the world. To Asia.

I’m sitting in an Irish bar in the Stockholm airport. Sweden. The Swedish krona. My first meal after I’d touched the ground from Italy was a salmon wrap with some kind of creme — or cream — that was better than anything I’d eaten in Italy. I ate the fucking thing while staring at the planes shooting across the sky. I could get used to this place, I told myself. Letting out a belch and breaking wind.

The three weeks in Italy felt like three years. That’s what I told my dad. He said that I should write a travel blog. I almost told him that if he started liking the things I wrote, then I knew it was getting bad. But I kept that to myself, you see.

There are Swedes in front of me. To the left, right and center. They are talking about things. What are they saying? And do they have bad breath?

While sitting on the airplane, there were three people in the row across the aisle from me. They’d been sitting in my seat, one of the fuckers.

“My seat,” I showed him the ticket and pointed to the number.


The three of them got up and played it off that they didn’t know what they were doing, that it was an honest mistake. But then two more people came up the aisle and they were timid and lethargic and nonplussed with starting any trouble. I mean, what did it really matter?

A pretty blonde sat next to my right. The window seat was occupied by the timid fellow. I wondered if it was him who was omitting a certain body odor that enriched the senses.

“Mother fuckers,” said I — under my breath. “Don’t these people shower? Who doesn’t take a shower before an international flight? And the way these people wait in line. It’s atrocious. They act like they’ll never be getting on the flight … they act like they’re the most important people on the planet … and so on, etc.”

I rambled in my mind, waiting for the flight to depart from Italy. Finally, it did. After the cabin rabble-d into the microphone about somebody who fucked up some paperwork.

 — We took off.


I studied a woman in the catty-corner seat in front of me obsessing over her social media profile. She was stealing a quote from the Bible. Maybe the King James version? Nevertheless, I thought about her. A baby started crying.

“Here we go,” I mumbled to thyself.

The woman was fumbling with her thumb, getting her quote just right. Like sticking her finger in her bum-bum and wafting the scent forward and aft.

She turned to look at me. I looked away. She scoffed, tyrannically. I wondered where she was from.

The girl next to me, I noticed, had slipped out of her heels. I still couldn’t figure out if the kid in the window seat was the smelly one. Then I thought, well shit. Maybe it’s me?


There are some things to know about Italy. For starters, it’s definitely a good place to clear out your colon of all its detritus stored in there, the offal from foodstuffs, onion ring staccato butt clenches, or the original orangutan spiel squirts, you know. Life just tends to weigh you down. And you do your business to rid yourself from the things that no longer matter to you.


Like I was saying: things to know about Italy.

You don’t eat croissants after 8 PM. (I made the mistake of ordering them in a cafe that was built in 1760, from an icy cold waitress in a tuxedo.)

The Spanish steps eventually get cold.

There are a lot of immigrants from places the U.S. bombed. I’m sure most Americans don’t really care about that. But it was interesting to see, to know that I came from a place that was still stuck in its colonization(al) ways … just like the rest of the world. To see the grievances and the aftershocks, the trembling of bombing countries … because it boosts GDP. That was something else. Travel blogs don’t talk about shit like that. Right, dad?

The wine is fantastic. You can get drunk for a week straight for less than a day’s work. Much less. In fact, you could enter into Italy and have your 90-day visa expunged after getting booted out for drinking too much wine and running to the nearest church and sneaking into the clock tower and clanging the bells at midnight. There’s always next year!

Let’s see. What else?

Europeans like to fart around, I’m learning. I highly recommend it.

I stayed with an Italian couple. At one point, they were arguing and I thought it was annoying — to have paid to hear an Italian couple arguing while I studied my own flesh-sack, while I worked hard every day. Like a good American.

Then I realized that most Italians argue about anything. And everything.

I even saw, one day, an Italian dude covered in tattoos on his neck and the back of his head, too, YELLING at his girlfriend from a subway platform. Another woman nearby said something so the goon started yelling at her, full-blast. He had a mustache. Nasty prick.

And in Naples, they used their hands a lot. For talking. I felt the tension.

“Yeah, there’s tension there. Because of immigration,” my mother said to me last night.

“I didn’t come here for politics,” I told her.

I finished about a dozen bottles of wine in three weeks. Sounds like a lie. And dozens of bottles of beer. This is a gross underestimate. I finished a short script over a three-week period.

The first few days were tough and humiliating. I felt that it was a good thing to be humiliated, to exist in a place where I didn’t know the language. And I could make a grandiose fool of myself so I could come to terms, ever so slowly, with my own stupidity.

That feels good to acknowledge. Seems like a good place to stop.

This airport is filled with people. I can’t recommend Italy enough.

The city of Rome was my favorite. And a two dollar chocolate bar I got from a grocery store. That had been worth the seven-hour flight.

I was nervous when I’d first left three weeks ago. I don’t feel nervous anymore.

Maybe it’s the beer.

(Oh, by the way. Curling is up on the TVs around the bar. Good.)